INTERREG EUROPE Cooperation Programme document

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1 INTERREG EUROPE CCI 2014 TC 16 RFIR 001 Cooperation Programme document Final 07 May 2014 Based on the Model for cooperation programmes under the European territorial cooperation goal as established in Annex 2 of the Commission implementing regulation (EU) No 288/2014 of 25 February 2014 and published in the Official Journal of 22 March 2014.

2 Table of Contents Section 1. Strategy Strategy for the contribution of the programme to the Union strategy on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion Description of the cooperation programme s strategy for contributing to the delivery of the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and for achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion Introduction Context of the programme Assessment of needs and challenges for the programme The opportunity for INTERREG EUROPE: Policy learning in support of the Europe 2020 Strategy Strategy of the INTERREG EUROPE programme Justification for the choice of thematic objectives and corresponding investment priorities, having regard to the Common Strategic Framework, based on an analysis of the needs within the programme area as a whole and the strategy chosen in response to such needs, addressing, where appropriate, missing links in cross-border infrastructure, taking into account the results of the ex-ante evaluation Justification of the financial allocation Section 2. Priority axes Section 2.A. Description of the priority axes other than technical assistance Priority Axis 1 - Research, Technological Development and Innovation Priority Axis 2 - Competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Priority Axis 3 - Low Carbon Economy Priority Axis 4 - Environment and Resource Efficiency Section 2.B. Description of the priority axis for technical assistance Priority Axis 5 - Technical Assisstance Section 3. Financing plan Financial appropriation from the ERDF (in EUR) A. Total financial appropriation from the ERDF and national co-financing (in EUR) B. Breakdown by priority axis and thematic objective Section 4. Integrated approach to territorial development Description of the integrated approach to territorial development Community-led local development (where appropriate) Integrated actions for sustainable urban development (where appropriate) Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) (where appropriate) Contribution of planned interventions towards macro-regional and Sea basin strategies, subject to the needs of the programme area as identified by the relevant Member States and taking into account, where applicable, strategically important projects identified in those strategies (where appropriate) Section 5. Implementing provisions for the cooperation programme Relevant authorities and bodies Procedure for setting up the joint secretariat Summary description of the management and control arrangements The apportionment of liabilities among the participating Member States in case of financial corrections imposed by the managing authority or the Commission Use of the Euro Involvement of partners

3 5.6.1 Actions taken to involve the partners and their role in the preparation of the cooperation programme Role of the partners in the implementation of the cooperation programme, including their involvement in the monitoring committee Section 6. Coordination between funds Coordination with the other ESI Funds Coordination with programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Goal Complementarity with cross-border and transnational programmes Coordination with other Interregional Cooperation Programmes Coordination with ESF, EAFRD and EMFF Coordination with other Union instruments Coherence / coordination with other EU policies and tools Coordination with the Smart Specialisation Platform Coherence with state aid rules Section 7. Reduction of administrative burden for beneficiaries Assessment of the administrative burden of beneficiaries Main actions planned to reduce the administrative burden of INTERREG EUROPE e-cohesion Section 8. Horizontal principles Sustainable development Equal opportunities and non-discrimination Equality between men and women Section 9. Separate elements A list of major projects for which the implementation is planned The performance framework of the cooperation programme Relevant partners involved in the preparation of the cooperation programme Applicable programme implementation conditions governing the financial management, programming, monitoring, evaluation and control of the participation of third countries in interregional programmes through a contribution of ENI and IPA resources Annexes Annex 1 - Draft report of the ex-ante evaluation with executive summary Annex 2 - Confirmation of agreement in writing to the contents of the cooperation programme Annex 3 - Map of the programme area Annex 4 - Citizens summary of the cooperation programme

4 CCI CCI 2014 TC 16 RFIR 001 Title Version First year 2014 Last year 2020 Eligible from Eligible until EC decision number EC decision date MS amending decision number MS amending decision date MS amending decision entry into force date NUTS regions covered by the cooperation programme INTERREG EUROPE All 4

5 Section 1. Strategy 1.1 Strategy for the contribution of the programme to the Union strategy on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion Description of the cooperation programme s strategy for contributing to the delivery of the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and for achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion Introduction To reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy, the INTERREG EUROPE programme promotes exchange of experience on thematic objectives among partners throughout the Union on the identification and dissemination of good practice with a view to its transfer principally to operational programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal but also, where relevant, to programmes under European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) goal 1 This will be done via the support and facilitation of policy learning, sharing of knowledge and transfer of good practices between regional and local authorities and other actors of regional relevance. The programme covers the whole territory of the European Union (EU) and Norway and Switzerland. The programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a budget of 359 million for the period. This first section of the Cooperation Programme provides an overview of the context of the programme in terms of regulations, territorial and policy needs and challenges and lessons from previous interregional cooperation programmes and presents the overall strategy and objectives of the programme Context of the programme INTERREG EUROPE is one of the instruments for the implementation of the EU s cohesion policy. With this policy, the EU pursues harmonious development across the Union by strengthening its economic, social and territorial cohesion to stimulate growth in the EU regions and Member States. The policy aims to reduce existing disparities between EU regions in terms of their economic and social development and environmental sustainability, taking into account their specific territorial features and opportunities. For the funding period, cohesion policy concentrates on supporting the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. Europe 2020 is the strategy to turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. Europe 2020 is an agenda for the whole Union, taking into account Member States different starting points, needs and specificities to promote growth for the whole EU. Europe 2020 has three mutually reinforcing priorities: Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation. Sustainable growth: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy. Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion. The Territorial Agenda underpins the territorial dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy. In this context INTERREG EUROPE can contribute by enabling regions to develop place-based responses to the Europe 2020 challenges of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The regulatory framework for INTERREG EUROPE is provided by the regulations for cohesion policy These are accompanied by a Common Strategic Framework (CSF) setting out key actions to address EU priorities and giving guidance to ensure coordination between funds. 1 Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 (ETC regulation), article 2(3)(a). 2 Territorial Agenda of the European Union Towards an Inclusive, Smart and Sustainable Europe of Diverse Regions (May 2011) 5

6 The potential thematic scope of INTERREG EUROPE is provided by 11 thematic objectives described in the Common Provisions Regulation 3. The European Territorial Cooperation regulation 4 and the Common Strategic Framework 5 outline that the programme should aim to reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy by encouraging exchange of experience between regions on thematic objectives. In particular the programme should contribute to the transfer of good practices principally into operational programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal of Cohesion policy, but also, where relevant, to programmes under the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) goal. The programme should also integrate and build on results generated through previous EU initiatives in relation to innovation and cluster support, for instance the "Regions of Knowledge" initiative. Next to this framework of EU Cohesion policy, INTERREG EUROPE can also contribute to the aims of several other sectoral and thematic policies and programmes, such as the EU Roadmaps for Low Carbon 6 and Resource Efficiency 7 and the Horizon and COSME 9 programmes Assessment of needs and challenges for the programme For INTERREG EUROPE to be fully effective, it should be firmly based on the real needs of its overall target group: the public authorities and other actors at regional level in Europe. The following paragraphs identify the main policy challenges and needs for regions in Europe for each of the three pillars of the Europe 2020 Strategy and indicate the main patterns of territorial variation for these themes. This serves to identify the key policy areas where interregional policy learning and experience transfer can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Based on the lessons and experiences gained from the implementation of the interregional cooperation programme key requirements are also presented that will help to ensure that the exchange and transfer of experience on the thematic objectives will have the maximum effect and generate a lasting impact. Policy challenges for European regions At the start of the programming period Europe faces several challenges that strongly impact on a wide range of policy fields at EU, national, regional and local level. The main challenge is the capacity of the European economy to grow, innovate and generate jobs on the way out of the crisis still affecting parts of Europe at the start of programme period. In parallel Europe needs to respond to demographic change and climate change and turn around its resource dependency. Many of these economic and societal challenges are defined by increasing international dependencies and interrelations - on a European and even a global scale. The programme area consists of 286 regions 10. The characteristics, situation and prospects of these regions in light of the described challenges are very diverse. They include metropolitan regions that are home to a growing share of the European population and have become important drivers of economic growth. But this concentration of people and economic activities also brings specific challenges. At the same time the largest part of the European territory consists of regions with a variety of peri-urban, rural, coastal, mountainous or other territorial characteristics, which host their own specific mix of regional opportunities and challenges for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The 8th progress report on cohesion 11 underlines this picture and identifies the need for cohesion programmes to support growth-enhancing and job-creating investments, with an emphasis on a few important areas such as innovation and SMEs, energy efficiency and a low-carbon economy, employment and education. 3 Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 (Common Provisions Regulation). Article 9. 4 Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 (ETC regulation). Recital (7) and article 2(3)(a). 5 Common Strategic Framework, Annex II (draft) Priorities for Cooperation 6 A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in COM(2011)112final 7 Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. COM(2011) 572 final 8 Regulation (EU) No 1291/ Regulation establishing Horizon Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Regulation (EU) No 1287/2013 Regulation establishing Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME ) 10 Regions at NUTS 2 level in the EU28 Member states + Norway and Switzerland 11 The regional and urban dimension of the crisis. 8th progress report on economic, social and territorial cohesion. European Commission (2013). 6

7 The regional diversity in the EU, where regions have vastly different characteristics, opportunities and needs, requires going beyond one-size-fits-all policies. It calls for a place-based approach that gives regions the ability and means to deliver policies that meet their specific needs 12. At the same time this diversity is an asset allowing each place to develop to its own strengths while benefitting from other regions through various forms of interaction. The character of each region lays the foundation for its role in Europe s push for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Smart Growth Performance in R&D and innovation varies markedly across the EU Member States (MS) and regions. The Regional Innovation Scoreboard 13 (2012) shows that most European countries have regions at different levels of innovation performance. Regions that qualify as Innovation leader, mainly in the centre and north of Europe, can be found directly next to weaker innovation regions, even within one MS. EU regions have different strengths and weaknesses in their innovation systems, reflected by differences in the performance for their so-called innovation enablers e.g. education levels of the labour population and public R&D investments. R&D resources are concentrated in a few leading regions mainly in the European science-based area, where R&D spending can be as high as 7% of GDP, while they can be very low (under 1%) in others 14. A region s investment in human capital also supports its ability to be innovative. There is evidence that in weaker regions, mainly in parts of eastern and southern Europe, the share of population holding a tertiary degree has a higher impact on regional production than R&D expenditure has 15. This regional diversity calls for regional innovation support programmes tailored specifically to the needs of individual regions. One of the instruments available to MS and regions is to develop smart specialisation strategies to concentrate resources for innovation support on key areas of intervention, clusters or sectors which represent a competitive advantage and support the delivery of innovation in those key areas throughout the innovation chain. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) contribute importantly to smart growth, as enablers of innovation, knowledge creation and e-commerce and employment. Today the differences in quality of ICT infrastructures and e-commerce use are mainly between countries rather than regions, with a clear north-west south-east divide with the north-west of Europe being most advanced. The regional distribution of ICT employment shows an urban-rural divide with concentrations of people working in ICT in metropolitan regions 16. Interregional cooperation can contribute to smart growth by enabling European regions to improve their regional policies and programmes for innovation and R&D support. Experience exchange and policy learning in key areas like, for instance, cluster support, research-to-business technology transfer, skills development, innovation in SMEs and innovation infrastructures will enable regions to accelerate and improve the implementation of their regional growth policies. Sustainable Growth Creating sustainable growth in the EU requires the creation of a strong climate for business and enterprise. SMEs account for over 99% of businesses in Europe, providing two thirds of all private employment and 80% of new jobs created across the EU. However during the years of economic crisis since 2008 many SMEs suffered and over 3 million jobs in SMEs have been lost 17. SME value added and employment growth are slowly recovering since, and have returned to their 2008 levels in several MS in the central and northern parts of Europe. Interestingly, SME growth rates (number of enterprises, employment, value added) in the EU12 ( new Member States) outperformed those of the EU15 ( old Member States) before the crisis. However, their fall was also much bigger in 2009 than that of the EU15. Both groups of Member States follow a similar growth pattern from 2010 onwards Investing in Europe s future. 5th report on economic, social and territorial cohesion. European Commission (2010). 13 DG Enterprise & Industry - Regional Innovation Scoreboard (2012) 14 Regional policy contributing to smart growth in Europe COM(2010) 553 final 15 ESPON 2 nd Synthesis Report (DRAFT) ESPON 2 nd Synthesis Report (DRAFT) European Commission (2011): Small Business Act Review (MEMO/11/109) 18 SME Performance review 2012, Ecorys for European Commission 7

8 To support SMEs as drivers for growth and employment in Europe, several challenges and obstacles need to be addressed in priority. These include the need to encourage entrepreneurship, to give SMEs better access to finance, to improve SME internationalisation, both in the EU internal and global markets 19. All this calls for better rules, support and facilities for SMEs and this is where regions all over Europe have a role to play. Sustainable growth also requires policymakers to engage with the challenges of climate change. The impacts of climate change are not just environmental; they are also economic and social. The main aggregated negative impacts will be felt in coastal regions, and more generally in southern Europe 20. But all territories, including urban or mountainous areas, will experience specific and significant impacts of climate change. Territorial approaches are needed to reduce regional vulnerability and to develop, implement and enforce adaptation. To achieve the target of 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, European regions need to invest in the development and use of renewable energies. They also need to develop cleaner and more efficient forms of transport and innovative mobility patterns. Investment in energy efficiency measures in the built environment can provide an important contribution to reducing energy consumption. The EU has significant potential for meeting its 20% renewable energy target. Renewable energies present an opportunity for the development of new industries, particularly in the wind, tidal power, solar power and biomass sectors. They offer specific opportunities within the more peripheral or rural parts of Europe, particularly in northern Europe for wind power and in southern Europe for solar power 21. Regions play a key role in protecting ecosystems and preventing biodiversity loss. With around 17% of European jobs indirectly linked to natural assets, current biodiversity loss has clear economic consequences, estimated to correspond to a 3% annual loss in GDP 22. Regions can invest in sustainable growth through policies in support of green investment, eco-innovation and a shift to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy. An integrated approach to sustainable regional development, taking into account specific territorial contexts and opportunities can bring improved resource efficiency and new jobs to European regions 23. Interregional cooperation can support European regions in delivering sustainable growth by enabling them to integrate successful experiences and policies from other regions into their own regional programmes in areas including promoting energy efficiency and the use of sustainable mobility options, investing in biodiversity and green infrastructures as a source of eco-system services and improving resource efficiency. The programme can also enable regions to build better policies in support of entrepreneurship, business support services and developing business opportunities based on ecoinnovation. Inclusive Growth In 2011, the employment rate in the EU was 69% with significant differences between EU countries and regions. Regions with employment rates above 75% are mostly located in northern Europe, while eastern and southern Europe show rather low employment rates. The economic crisis had a particularly striking effect on youth unemployment. Both national and regional disparities in youth unemployment levels are striking, with the highest levels observed in southern and south-eastern regions of Europe 24. The share of low-skilled population is largely defined in the national context, with few regional or ruralurban disparities. The education drop-out rate varies considerably among European regions with the highest rates found in south-west Europe and in outermost regions. In 2010, one third of European regions did not meet the target of reducing the share of early school leavers to less than 10% European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry 2012 SME Assembly 20 ESPON 2nd Synthesis Report (DRAFT) ESPON 2nd Synthesis Report (DRAFT) EU Biodiversity strategy to 2020, COM (2011)244 and 23 Regional policy contributing to sustainable growth in Europe COM(2011) 17 final figures reported in the ESPON mapfinder tool. 25 ESPON mapfinder tool: 8

9 Interregional cooperation can contribute to inclusive growth by supporting policy learning and experience transfer on regional policies that will get people back into employment. Key fields of action are, for instance, policies supporting the development of SMEs as main creators of new jobs, programmes promoting female and young entrepreneurship, and skills development for the knowledge economy. Interregional cooperation - experiences and lessons learnt The INTERREG IVC programme has successfully generated interregional cooperation initiatives across Europe. A crucial factor for achieving the INTERREG IVC programme goal to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies was the extent to which supported projects succeeded in actually influencing the policy frameworks of the regions involved. Several novelties were introduced to encourage and stimulate this process: From the start of the programme, Capitalisation Projects were a specific type of project, dedicated exclusively to preparing the implementation (in Action Plans) of pre-identified good practices through regional ERDF programmes. The first generation of Capitalisation Projects showed promising results regarding their potential to improve implementation of Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment programmes. However, the share of Capitalisation Projects remained limited, at around 10% of all projects. It proved challenging for projects to secure the necessary involvement of Managing Authorities and in later years of the programming period the depletion of ERDF means in many regions hindered Action Plan implementation. During the programme period an additional requirement was introduced, stipulating that each participating region in a project develops an Implementation Plan to specify how they would continue to work to integrate the lessons learnt from the cooperation into their local / regional policies 26. The Programme launched a thematic capitalisation process, focusing on collecting, analysing, storing and disseminating the thematic knowledge gained from projects working on the same topic. First interim results (mid-2013) already show that the expert-driven analysis and benchmarking of project results offer added value to programme and project stakeholders. Capitalisation is a key block of the whole knowledge management cycle, which is a very demanding task considering the geographical scope of the programme, the widespread lack of habits to store and valorise in an effective manner public actions, the existence of linguistic barriers, etc. In addition to these experiences, ongoing analysis and evaluation during the INTERREG IVC programme implementation 27 provided several valuable lessons and recommendations for the programme: Programme content and development Bring stronger thematic focus to the programme to ensure greater visibility of project results, a more even spread of knowledge in the programme area and to ease drafting of targeted calls for proposals. Explore different approaches to ensure fewer, higher quality proposals (e.g. 2-step procedure or targeted calls for proposals). Better integrate the territorial dimension into the future project selection to ensure that projects and partnerships are equipped to respond to the different needs and potentials of all kinds of territories across Europe. Ensure commitment and support of relevant bodies and stakeholders (e.g. Managing Authorities of regional Programmes) and check before and during the development of action plans if funding will be available for its implementation. 26 The effect of this approach will only start to become visible when the related projects are completed in the course of 2013/ Notably: INTERREG IVC Interim evaluation (2010) and Interim evaluation update (2013) and the Exchange of experience study (2013). 9

10 Intervention logic of the programme and learning process Ensure that purpose-oriented project partnerships are established (i.e. characterised by an adequate combination of context conditions, policy experiences & policy capacity), but remain open for less experienced partners and the innovations they can bring to the programme. Reconsider the role and possible stronger use of implementation-related activities directly connected to the exchange of experience. Highlight the importance of the multidimensional learning process (i.e. a process that ensures policy learning at project, organisational, regional and wider EU level) as a driver for policy change. Learning outcomes need to be more effectively transferred and embedded in the partner organisations in order to lead to policy change. Put more emphasis on the demand side to clearly identify the real needs of potential end-users of good practices developed by other projects. Make sure that the capitalisation process and the external communication effectively reach the final target groups. Key lessons are that INTERREG EUROPE must step up its effort to ensure that supported activities do in fact lead to tangible policy changes in the partner regions. Projects should be geared to preparing the actual implementation of actions based on the exchange. This implies that relevant local stakeholders in each partner region need to be more systematically involved from the start of all supported activities. Opportunities for implementation-related activities, e.g. pilot actions should also be provided, as part of this stronger orientation to prepare implementation of actual policy changes. To strengthen the multidimensional learning and capitalisation processes, the programme should also develop new forms to reach the wider target group of regional policy actors in Europe, and allow them to have easy access to and learn from the thematic knowledge and experience gathered in other regional policies and programmes. These lessons are translated into the operational objectives of this programme (section 1.1.4) and in the types of actions to be supported (Section 2). The ETC regulation specifies that Interregional Cooperation should integrate the experiences from other EU cooperation initiatives for innovation and cluster support, in particular the "Regions of Knowledge" (RoK). This initiative, with a budget of 126 million ( ), encouraged EU-wide co-operation among partnerships in the triple helix of universities/research centres, enterprises and regional authorities to develop research-driven clusters. Activities targeted the coordination of mutual research agendas, knowledge exchange and new research-driven clusters for which projects developed joint action plans. Evaluation of the RoK-initiative 28 demonstrated a positive contribution to the development of regional innovation strategies, also in less-developed regions. Key recommendations to improve future RoK-type activities are to strengthen inter-project learning, to ensure early involvement of key regional stakeholders and to consider funding pilot actions as part of the projects. 28 Assessment of the impact of the Regions of Knowledge programme, Technopolis (2011) 10

11 The opportunity for INTERREG EUROPE: Policy learning in support of the Europe 2020 Strategy The needs analysis shows that European regions are dealing with a wide range of policy issues related to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It also illustrates the diversity among these regions in their progress and performance in tackling the related challenges. Through their own regional policies and strategies, the regions of Europe can make an important contribution to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Cohesion policy equips all European regions with instruments to tackle their respective growth challenges, by means of the regional (or national) programmes of Investment for Growth and Jobs and of the European Territorial Cooperation programmes. Interventions in the context of programmes for Growth and Jobs related to research and innovation should build on national or regional 'smart specialisation strategies' (S3 strategies). Here INTERREG EUROPE can bring added value by offering European regions the opportunity for policy learning and transfer of good practices. In doing so, the programme can assist the regions to strengthen their policies, to enhance their regional development situation and ultimately to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. In this respect the ETC regulation gives the programme the specific task of supporting the implementation of the programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs but also, where relevant, of programmes under the ETC goal. By feeding in relevant practices and experiences from regions across Europe, and preparing their implementation through these Investment for Growth and Jobs and ETC programmes in the participating regions, the pace and quality of implementation of these programmes can be further enhanced. This approach will give a high degree of focus to the programme, necessary to ensure sufficient impact and Europe-wide relevance of the results. This should not prevent the programme however from incorporating relevant contributions from regional level actors that are not directly involved in the implementation of Growth and Jobs or ETC programmes, considering that other regional level policies and programmes can also contribute significantly to achieving the Cohesion policy aims of strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion to stimulate growth in European regions. To achieve this, the programme needs to support cooperation initiatives between European regions to improve the effectiveness of their policies. Similar to interregional cooperation in previous programming periods, this support revolves around policy learning based on the identification, exchange, adaptation and transfer of practices among regions. To maximise the impact of this cooperation, the emphasis must be on the planning and preparation of specific actions to implement and apply the practices addressed in the participating regions. In addition, there is a need for more continuous policy learning to capitalise on regional policy good practices, to actively bring the results of Interregional Cooperation Projects to all regional actors engaged in a certain policy field. If European regions can tap into good practice examples, knowledge and expertise related to a specific policy need, directly when this need occurs, this maximises the reach and impact of the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The programme will have to provide facilities to the European regions to give them continuous access to this wealth of regional policy expertise that they can use directly in their policies and strategies in support of Europe 2020 goals. In supporting this policy learning, attention needs to be paid to the demand side: what need and use do potential end-users have for these approaches and tools? By definition, a capitalisation process can only be qualified as successful when the experiences involved have been effectively re-used by the recipient end-user. The governance of capitalisation must therefore focus on the factors of effective reuse. It has also to be driven by the end-user and not be set up exclusively as a push process. The INTERREG EUROPE programme can further support European regions by integrating the experiences from a number of related European initiatives. These include in particular the Regions of Knowledge initiative that promoted Europe-wide cooperation between public and private research centres, enterprises and authorities and supported regional research-driven clusters. 11

12 Strategy of the INTERREG EUROPE programme The regulations state that the INTERREG EUROPE programme should aim to reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy by encouraging exchange of experience between regions on thematic objectives. In particular, the programme should contribute to the transfer of good practices principally into the operational programmes of the Investment for growth and jobs goal and, where relevant, into those of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) goal. The programme should also integrate and build on results generated through previous EU initiatives related to innovation and cluster support, for instance the Regions of Knowledge initiative Taking into consideration the main territorial needs and challenges, and the specific needs derived from previous interregional cooperation experiences identified previously, the Partner States have defined the following mission statement for the programme: The programme will contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe by supporting (and facilitating) knowledge sharing and good practice transfer among actors of regional relevance to improve regional/cohesion policy. Building on this overall mission statement the programme strategy is further defined in the following paragraphs presenting the overall objective of the programme and the corresponding operational and thematic objectives as well as investment priorities that will be targeted. Overall objective of Programme On the basis of the objectives defined for interregional cooperation in the regulations for cohesion policy and of the needs and challenges identified above, the following overall objective is defined for the INTERREG EUROPE programme: To improve the implementation of policies and programmes for regional development, principally of programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal and, where relevant, of programmes under the ETC goal, by promoting exchange of experience and policy learning among actors of regional relevance. This overall objective can be further specified to reflect how INTERREG EUROPE can intervene to realise the strategic objective of improving Cohesion policy through knowledge sharing and good practice transfer. The strategy of the programme is two-fold. On one hand, building on the experience with interregional cooperation (see section 1.1.3), the programme will meet a need to facilitate policy learning and capitalisation of regional policy good practices on a continuous basis, to enable regional level actors from across the EU to tap into relevant experiences and practices whenever they need them to strengthen their policies. On the other hand, the programme will support interregional cooperation between regional actors, dedicated to policy learning and transfer of good practices with the specific aim to prepare the integration of the lessons learnt from the cooperation into regional policies and actions, in particular through programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC. In doing so, the programme aims to make a direct contribution to the implementation of programmes under the Growth and Jobs, and, where relevant, ETC goals. Based on these considerations the following operational objectives are defined: 1. To facilitate ongoing EU-wide policy learning and capitalisation of practices among actors of regional relevance in order to strengthen regional policies, and in particular the implementation of programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC. 2. To support exchange of experience and sharing of practices among actors of regional relevance with the aim to integrate the learning from the cooperation into regional policies, in particular through their programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC. 12

13 These operational objectives at programme level are applicable to all the fields of regional policy supported by the programme. To fulfil its overall mission and meet the operational objectives defined above, the programme will adopt the following approach to interregional cooperation. In support of the first operational objective of facilitating ongoing EU-wide policy learning and capitalisation of good practices, policy learning platforms will be created for different thematic policy fields. These platforms will be active throughout the duration of the programme, to provide on a regular basis services and support to the regions of Europe with the intention to inform and enhance the definition and implementation of their regional policies, and primarily their programmes for Growth and Jobs and ETC. In support of the objective of exchanging experience and sharing practices to prepare their implementation in regional policies, the programme will support and fund Interregional Cooperation Projects among relevant partnerships of regional actors. The purpose of these projects will be to induce policy learning and to prepare the implementation of good practices in the participating regions, in particular through their respective programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and where relevant ETC. The experience and practices that are at the basis of the exchange can come from various sources, including various EU-programmes and projects such as for instance national or regional Structural Funds, ETC, Regions of Knowledge (RoK), CIP, LIFE+, FP7, etc. As specified in the overall and operational objectives above, INTERREG EUROPE targets actors of regional relevance. These can be both regional and local authorities as well as other categories of actors playing a role in the definition and implementation of regional policies and programmes. A more elaborate description of these actors of regional relevance for each of the priority axes of the programme is provided in section 2 of this document. As a general rule the beneficiaries of the programme are public bodies and bodies governed by public law. Bodies governed by private law may also be beneficiaries under certain conditions (see also Section 2 of this document). Detailed provisions will be outlined in the programme manual. SMEs are an important target group and when relevant they are encouraged to participate in the activities of INTERREG EUROPE actions and benefit from the exchange of experience, although they cannot directly receive EU funding as a beneficiary. Thematic objectives of the programme Structural Funds programmes for the programming period are required to focus on a limited number of thematic objectives, corresponding to the main needs of the programme area where the programme could make the most relevant contribution. In the regulations this principle of thematic concentration is further developed by stipulating that programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal must allocate a minimum share of their ERDF budget to only four thematic objectives: (1) Research & Innovation, (2) Information and Communication Technologies, (3) Competitiveness of SMEs and (4) Low Carbon Economy. This share is at least 50% for less developed regions, and amounts to 60% and 80% respectively for the transition and more developed regions of Europe 29. For interregional cooperation the regulations impose no specific limitation to the (number of) thematic objectives to be selected. However, the Partner States of INTERREG EUROPE have agreed to apply the concentration principle as part of the strategy of the programme. A concentration of the programme on a limited number of thematic objectives increases its potential to make a substantial impact on regional policies across the EU within the selected fields. It will also give the programme more mass in terms of the clustering and capitalisation of aggregated project results in the supported themes, which will increase the strategic relevance of the programme at the European level. A selection of a limited number of thematic objectives (TO) can be made starting from the aim of the programme to contribute to the implementation of programmes under the Investment for Growth and 29 Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 (ERDF Regulation), Art 4. 13

14 Jobs goal. In this context it is essential that the programme addresses the thematic objectives where these Goal 1 programmes should concentrate most of their means. As indicated above, between 50% and 80% of all ERDF means available to the Growth and Jobs programmes will be allocated to the Thematic Objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4. Concerning support to TO2 - Information and Communication Technologies the Partner States consider that it is less opportune to deal with the challenges related to the digital society through a separate Priority Axis. Rather, the introduction of ICT is perceived as a cross-cutting theme that links in with the other thematic objectives, for instance as an integrated part of innovation infrastructures (TO1) or through the development of e-services by SMEs. Therefore, thematic objective 2 is not separately included in INTERREG EUROPE. The Partner States have identified a shared need to address issues related to the protection of the environment and promotion of resource efficiency in their regions. Many regions across Europe are dealing with challenges related to the protection and development of their biodiversity and natural and cultural assets, and creating green growth based on eco-innovation and sound environmental management. This corresponds to thematic objective 6, which is therefore also incorporated in the INTERREG EUROPE programme. This results in the following selection of thematic objectives that will be addressed by INTERREG EUROPE: 1. Strengthening research, technological development and innovation (TO1) 2. Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs (TO3) 3. Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors (TO4) 4. Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency (TO6) This selection of TOs corresponds mainly to the smart and sustainable growth pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy. The element of inclusive growth will also have a place in the programme, in more general terms as a cross-cutting theme. The key issue of employment will for instance be addressed through the support to the competitiveness of SME as well as in relation to (eco-)innovation as new drivers for growth and jobs. Investment priorities To focus the programme implementation within the selected TOs, a number of Investment Priorities is selected out of the available options in the cohesion policy regulations 30. A few main principles are applied in making this selection, in recognition of the nature of the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The programme is an instrument for changing and improving policies and (Growth & Jobs and ETC) programmes of European regions. It does so by means of experience transfer and policy learning between actors of regional relevance, with a view to preparing the implementation of actions at the regional level in a follow-up stage. The programme does not support any large scale material investments, technical measures or research within the regions. If the programme aims to trigger policy change and improve the implementation of (Growth & Jobs and ETC) programmes in regions across the whole EU, it is crucial that the programme acknowledges the diversity of regional needs and opportunities within the fields of the thematic objectives selected. This diversity is reflected in different accents, priorities and levels of ambition in the policies and (Growth & Jobs and ETC) programmes in each European region, even if they address the same overall thematic objective. The programme should therefore be open to the full range of topics within each of the selected thematic objectives as defined by the regions of Europe in their individual (Growth & Jobs and ETC) programmes. Based on these considerations one to two Investment Priorities are selected per thematic objective that can support interregional exchange and policy learning on a wide range of issues representative of the thematic scope of the corresponding thematic objective. Table 1 below presents an overview of the investment priorities that are selected for INTERREG EUROPE, including a brief justification for their selection. 30 Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 (ERDF Regulation), Article 5 14

15 1.1.2 Justification for the choice of thematic objectives and corresponding investment priorities, having regard to the Common Strategic Framework, based on an analysis of the needs within the programme area as a whole and the strategy chosen in response to such needs, addressing, where appropriate, missing links in cross-border infrastructure, taking into account the results of the ex-ante evaluation Table 1 - Justification for the selection of thematic objectives and investment priorities Selected TO Selected IP Justification for selection 1 - Strengthening research, technological development and innovation 3 - Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs 4 - Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors 6 - Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency 1a - enhancing research and innovation (R&I) infrastructure and capacities to develop R&I excellence and promoting centres of competence, in particular those of European interest; 1b - promoting business investment in R&I, developing links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres and the higher education sector, in particular promoting investment in product and service development, technology transfer, social innovation, eco-innovation, public service applications, demand stimulation, networking, clusters and open innovation through smart specialisation, and supporting technological and applied research, pilot lines, early product validation actions, advanced manufacturing capabilities and first production, in particular in key enabling technologies and diffusion of general purpose technologies; 3d - Supporting the capacity of SMEs to engage in growth in regional, national and international markets, and in innovation processes; 4e - Promoting low-carbon strategies for all types of territories, in particular for urban areas, including the promotion of sustainable multi-modal urban mobility and mitigation relevant adaptation measures; 6c - conserving, protecting, promoting and developing natural and cultural heritage; - The availability of sound innovation infrastructures and capacities is a key condition for smart growth in regions. - European regions have different strengths and weaknesses in the performance for their so-called innovation enablers showing potential for interregional exchange on e.g. research facilities, education levels of labour force and public R&D investments. - TO1 is one of the TOs on which all Growth and Jobs programmes must concentrate a large part of their means. - Smart growth requires adequate support to the delivery of innovation throughout the innovation chain. - Regions need to concentrate innovation support in key areas with high innovation potential (smart specialisation). - Performance in innovation delivery varies across regions, showing potential for interregional cooperation on e.g. support to research-driven clusters, triple-helix cooperation and technology transfer. - TO1 is among the prioritised TOs for all Growth & Jobs programmes. - Sustainable regional growth requires a healthy climate for business and enterprise. - Regions need to encourage entrepreneurship and support SMEs in e.g. improving product and service development, internationalisation on internal and global markets and access to finance, knowledge and networks. - Interregional cooperation can enable regions to build better policies in support of entrepreneurship and business support services. - TO3 is among the prioritised TOs for all Growth & Jobs programmes. - To reduce CO2 emissions, regions must put in place strategies for the development and use of renewable energies, sustainable mobility options and the adoption of energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption. - Interregional cooperation can enable regions to deliver sustainable growth by integrating successful experiences and policies from other regions into their regional low carbon strategies. - TO4 is among the prioritised TOs for all Growth & Jobs programmes. - Regional actors need to protect ecosystems, landscapes and biodiversity and prevent (further) degradation of their natural and cultural assets. - At the same time the natural and cultural heritage are important resources for sustainable growth in European regions. - Interregional cooperation can improve regional sustainable growth strategies by inducing policy learning on the sustainable management and exploitation of those assets.

16 Selected TO Selected IP Justification for selection 6g - supporting industrial transition towards a resource-efficient economy, promoting green growth, eco-innovation and environmental performance management in the public and private sectors; - To generate sustainable growth, regions need to create an economy where resource-efficiency, green technologies and eco-innovation are drivers for growth and jobs. - Regional green growth also requires environmental policies that steer towards a more efficient use of air, water, waste and soil. - Interregional cooperation can enable regions in developing integrated sustainable regional growth strategies based on more efficient use of resources.

17 1.2 Justification of the financial allocation Justification for the financial allocation (i.e. Union support) to each thematic objective and, where appropriate, investment priority, in accordance with the thematic concentration requirements, taking into account the ex-ante evaluation. The total ERDF budget of the INTERREG EUROPE programme will be distributed evenly over the thematic objectives selected. Each of the four thematic objectives receives an allocation of 25% of the available ERDF budget (excluding the means dedicated to technical assistance). This equal distribution underlines that all of the selected thematic objectives have the same importance and legitimacy in the programme strategy. And it ensures that the opportunities for interregional cooperation are at the same level for each of the four thematic pillars of the programme. At the same time this distribution ensures that a significant part of the available ERDF budget (75%) is allocated to the three selected thematic objectives (i.e. TO1, TO3, TO4) where, according to the ERDF Regulation, the programmes for Investment in Growth and Jobs should concentrate most of their means. This is important, as it reflects the specific task of INTERREG EUROPE to support those programmes (as well as ETC programmes, where relevant).

18 Table 2: Overview of the investment strategy of the cooperation programme Priority axis ERDF support (in EUR) Proportion (%) of the total Union support for the cooperation programme (by Fund) Thematic objective ERDF ENI IPA % Thematic objective 1 Strengthening research, technological development and innovation % Thematic objective 3 Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs % Thematic objective 4 Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors % Thematic objective 6 Protecting the environment and Investment priorities 1(a) 1(b) 3(d) 4(e) 6(c) Specific objectives corresponding to the investment priorities Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, in the field of research and innovation infrastructure and capacities. Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, that support the delivery of innovation by actors in regional innovation chains in areas of smart specialisation and innovation opportunity. Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, supporting SMEs in all stages of their life cycle to develop and achieve growth and engage in innovation. Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, addressing the transition to a low-carbon economy. Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC Result indicators corresponding to the specific objective Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of [research and innovation infrastructures] Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of [research and innovation infrastructures] Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of the delivery of innovation Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of the delivery of innovation Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of SME growth and entrepreneurship Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of SME growth and entrepreneurship Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of low carbon economy Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of low carbon economy Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of protection and development of natural and cultural heritage

19 Priority axis ERDF support (in EUR) Proportion (%) of the total Union support for the cooperation programme (by Fund) ERDF ENI IPA Thematic objective promoting resource efficiency Investment priorities 6(g) Specific objectives corresponding to the investment priorities programmes, in the field of the protection and development of natural and cultural heritage. Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, aimed at increasing resource-efficiency, green growth and eco-innovation and environmental performance management. Result indicators corresponding to the specific objective Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of protection and development of natural and cultural heritage with improved implementation Share of Growth & Jobs and ETC programmes where measures inspired by INTERREG EUROPE were implemented in the field of resource efficiency Amount of Structural Funds (from Growth & Jobs and ETC) influenced by INTERREG EUROPE in the field of resource efficiency with improved % n/a n/a To maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of the management and implementation of the INTERREG EUROPE Programme. Share (%) of all supported operations (projects and platforms) that is implemented successfully, demonstrated by the achievement of planned outputs. Share (%) of total programme ERDF budget decommitted 19

20 Section 2. Priority axes. Section 2.A. Description of the priority axes other than technical assistance 2.A.1 Priority Axis ID of the Priority Axis Priority Axis 1 Title of the Priority Axis Research, Technological Development and Innovation The entire priority axis will be implemented solely through financial instruments The entire priority axis will be implemented solely though financial instruments set up at Union level The entire priority axis will be implemented through community-led local development <2A.3 type= C input= M > <2A.4 type= C input= M > <2A.5 type= C input= M > 2.A.2. Justification for the establishment of a priority axis covering more than one thematic objective (where applicable) <2.A.0 type= S maxlength= input= M > 2.A.3 Fund and calculation basis for Union support Fund ERDF Calculation basis (total eligible expenditure or total eligible expenditure (incl. public and eligible public expenditure) private) 2.A.4 Investment priority Investment Investment priority 1(a) priority Enhancing research and innovation (R&I) infrastructure and capacities to develop R&I excellence and promoting centres of competence, in particular those of European interest. 2.A.5. Specific objectives corresponding to the investment priority and expected results ID Specific Objective 1.1 Specific objective The result that the Member States seek to achieve with Union support Improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and, where relevant, ETC programmes, in the field of research and innovation infrastructure and capacities. The main change sought is an improved implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Growth and Jobs (G&J), and, where relevant, ETC, in the field of regional infrastructures for research and innovation and capacities to develop research and innovation excellence. To achieve innovation-driven growth, regional authorities and other actors of regional relevance must strengthen their innovation enablers : the infrastructures and capacities needed for research and innovation to flourish in sectors with strong innovation potential. Many EU regions identify these key sectors in Regional Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation. Regional policies for innovation infrastructure and capacities must target such issues as the availability of research and competence centres and ICT infrastructures, ensuring that 20

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